It's actually *not* closet cleaning season right now... but I have relevant news to share for this project done some time ago, so please allow me to introduce you to The Interactive Rug Loom!
The Interactive Rug Loom was recently featured just outside the Make Shop at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh during Pittsburgh's First Mini Maker Faire on Sunday October 23! Check out a photo of the loom in action at the Faire here, and browse some of the other Faire action shots here, here and here. A great time was had by all!
I must add to this post with a note that this is *not* originally my idea. I saw one of these giant looms in action at Maker Faire Detroit in 2010, brought by the fabulous makers at GreenSheep! They're true artists and pros at repurposing natural fibers!
I came home after Maker Faire Detroit, and proceeded to daydream for a while about having a giant loom of my very own. A few months later and I was well underway, thanks to a little help and tool resources at HackPittsburgh!
Here's how I made mine, if you'd like to make one of your own! This can, of course, be scaled down - a 6' x 4' loom isn't exactly the easiest thing to find a home for - but those measurements are on you :)
Here's what you need:
* Enough 1x3 board to cut two 6' lengths and two 4' lengths
* 4 "L" brackets and installation screws
* 224 #8x 2" construction screws, the kind with the top 1/2" smooth
* Measuring tool (ruler, yardstick, etc.)
* Table saw or mitre box and handsaw
Here's what to do:
* Step 1: Cut your boards to the appropriate lengths. In my case, I cut them down to two 6' and two 4' boards.
* Step 2: Cut your board ends at 45 degree angles using your table saw or mitre box and handsaw. Remember that the two ends will be at opposite angles to create a frame.
* Step 3: Match up your corners, and attach your "L" brackets on the back of the corners to create the frame.
* Step 4: Measure and mark your screw placements. I placed my screws 1" apart.
* Step 5: Drill pilot holes where you've marked.
* Step 6: Insert all screws in pilot holes and screw into place.
*** NOTE: These steps are outlined exactly as I put them together. Since this was my first loom, and I didn't have any instructions (only a mental image), it may be easier for you to drill and place your screws before putting the frame together with "L" brackets. Your choice.
The finished loom!
Now, to weave on the loom. Since this loom isn't exactly "small", you need a lot of material to fill it up. My favorite materials to use are wool sweaters and t-shirts. Simply cut your sweaters or t-shirts from the bottom up, horizontally, front and back at the same time, to create loops. I usually stop at the arms and use the remains for other projects.
Sweaters are a little trickier, but in general, if you purchase men's XL t-shirts, one loop stretched will cross the loom horizontally, and two loops together will cross the loom vertically. I cut my strips (both sweater and t-shirt) in approximately 1" width.
The first rug created on this loom was 100% wool sweaters from Goodwill. I will warn you - this loom requires an amazing amount of material to properly fill it. By my estimate, the first sweater rug needed 45 sweaters to complete it. If you have sweaters you're looking to get rid of, you're all set - but if you're shopping at Goodwill, please expect to pay ~$300 to finish your rug. (Don't get me wrong, the finished product is really beautiful!)
T-shirts are a little easier on the wallet, and more readily available year-round. It takes about 35 t-shirts to finish off a rug on this loom. At about $2 / t-shirt, that's a much more wallet-friendly ~$70. It will look great, of course, but not as luxurious as the wool version.
To weave, I find it's easiest to install the vertical strips first. Simply loop one end over the top screw, pull down, and pull the bottom of the loop over the corresponding screw at the bottom of the frame.
Once all vertical loops are installed, it's time to weave! Start by placing one end of your loop over the first screw. Go over the first vertical strip, under the second, over the third, under the fourth, and so on! Continue all the way to the right, looping the end onto the corresponding screw on the opposite side from where you started. To start the next line, do exactly opposite of what you did on the first - under, over, under, over, etc. to the end. Continue alternating all lines in same fashion.
Once your weaving is complete, it's time to remove your rug! Starting on the left corner and moving down the left side, pull off the first loop. Place that loop on the second screw down. Pull the loop originally on the second screw through the first loop that you just placed in front of it. Holding onto the second loop, pull both loops off of the screw. Now, take that second loop (in your hand) and put it onto the third screw down. Pull the loop already on that screw through the loop you just placed on the screw. Holding onto that third loop, pull both loops off of the screw.
Continue pulling loops off the loom in same fashion, all the way around, saving the top for last (so it has a place to hang). When you get to the very last loop, pull tight, cut open, and weave into rug and tie off so it's secure.
You're done! Enjoy your new rug!
If you're in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, have some free time and materials, and would like to make a rug of your own, please stop by HackPittsburgh. The Interactive Rug Loom is installed there, and looking to help people make beautiful rugs!